"Theatorium" or Picwick Theater - Syracuse, IN - 1919
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member dnrseekers
N 41° 25.656 W 085° 45.193
16T E 604176 N 4586976
Quick Description: An unbelievable history of survival also lurks behind the marquee...
Location: Indiana, United States
Date Posted: 9/2/2014 10:50:41 AM
Waymark Code: WMMCZ4
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 5

Long Description:
This theater has a fascinating history. It has been rebuilt 4 times as it stands and has survived 3 fires that burned everything around it to the ground! One of those fires even burned off the second floor of the theater but it still survived. The history dates back to the turn of the century. Pictures date to 1905. This is a most unusual place to find a theater this old and remarkably STILL IN BUSINESS as it has been for a hundred years! No bigger, no smaller, the same theater!

But before getting into its history if you love art deco – real art deco, visit this place. . The lobby is just as it was 50 years ago. Most nights the person you buy your tickets from will leave the ticket booth and run over to the concession stand if you want some refreshments before the movie. Got'a love small towns! Its good to see a place like this still making it. Sure it could use a little sprucing up but all in all its a viable business in the downtown of a very small Midwestern town. That's not easy to do these days. If you're in the area stop by for a movie and a step back in time.

Here's the number to see what’s playing tonight.. 574-457-4160

Now on with that history,

The theater's originally was known as the "Theatorium" (see the picture of the advertisement for the 1919 showing of Sis Hopkins at the Theatorium with the Ukelele Jazz Orchestra palying - no talkies yet...) It was a all wooden structure that was extremely ornate even by todays standards. The theater survived its first fire in 1925! Three people were hurt in the fire but no on was killed thank goodness. It was rebuilt and a second story and fancy Swiss type front facade was added to the theater. It was incorporated into a “theater complex” way back in the 30’s! It was known as the Picwick but it was not just a theater, it was a whole block of businesses and with the radically unique styling it was quite the talk in all the surrounding counties. But it wouldn’t last.

Once again fire would strike. In 1946 the entire complex burned to the ground, all that is but the theater which survived its second bout with fire. The lobby was destroyed as was the second story above it but the theater itself made it through. Following the fire the rest of the block was razed. The theater lobby though was rebuilt once again and the theater itself cleaned up and it was open for business again.

Tough life for sure but it wasn’t over. Once again in the 1970’s the “Pickwick Block” catches fire and burns to the ground again, that is all but the theater. The restaurant right next door was totaled as was the drug store next to it all the way to the corner. Some how the theater did not burn but everything else was demolished. So again the Pickwick Block was rebuilt. This time though a new style was incorporated, different but just as radical as its old styling before the 1946 fire.

This time the basement of the old block was saved (remember now the theater is still ok – it needed a little refurbishment and rebuilding of the marquee and the facade which keeps getting blasted with every fire but it survives). The Pickwick Block basement is made into a restaurant and on top of it a small park is made with buildings that face inward to the park. This is how the Pickwick Block stands today. The restaurant is called "The Down Under".

So the theater has survived 3 fires and is on its fourth rebuild. All in the same place, all the same size, no additions or subtractions just the stubborn determination of a little building to survive and be what it has always been since before the “talkies”, the Town Theater. Long live the Pickwick!

For a complete showing of pictures see waymark WMBBNM which includes letters from the governor, postcards, announcements of openings ect.
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Syracuse Post Standard

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walkingwildly visited "Theatorium" or Picwick Theater - Syracuse, IN - 1919 9/19/2014 walkingwildly visited it
dnrseekers visited "Theatorium" or Picwick Theater - Syracuse, IN - 1919 10/15/2013 dnrseekers visited it

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